Cairo is one of the most thrilling places in the world to approach by air, as the green valley suddenly appears from out of the waste of desert or, at night, with all its myriads of twinkling lights, and the Nile winding gracefully through the city. One of the most remarkable aspects of Cairo from the air is probably the visible contrast between the ancient and the modern, the old city of the Caliphs, the Fatimids and Saladin and, side by side with it, the splendid modern capital with its towering buildings and wide squares.
The Egyptian Museum:
The unique exhibits in this world famous museum cover well over than 5000 years of ancient Egyptian history and are constantly being added to by new excavation. Among its more splendid treasures are the funeral effects of Tutankankhamon, the unfinished head of Queen Nefertiti, the wooden statue of the Scribe, and the diorite statue of king “Khafraa” or Kephren, who built the second Giza Pyramid. Lesser Known, but equally fascinating, are the world’s oldest portraits from Fayyum and the Greco-Roman collections. A visit to the mummies’ hall is also a very unique experience. There you will see the mummies of many Pharaohs among them Ramses II.
The Coptic Museum:
The museum contains a comprehensive collection depicting the Coptic Church (early Christianity) from its beginning. The exhibits include architectural fragments, wood sculpture, glass, earthenware, textiles, metals icons and frescosalso a large collection of ancient manuscripts of prime interest to Egyptologists.
Sultan Hassan Mosque:
Founded in 1356, this is a magnificent masterpiece of Arab architecture. In addition to a minaret of 282 feet high, the highest in Cairo, it has a beautiful courtyard “Sahn” covered by cupota, which is supported by eight marble columns with Koranic inscriptions. There is too a central fountain for ritual washing before prayers, and a splendorous collection of enameled glass lamps.
The Citadel Of Saladin:
Situated on the slopes of Mount Mokattam, the Citadel overlooks the whole of Cairo, as far as the Giza Pyramids. Built in 1183 by Saladin, it contains, within its ancient walls, many buildings of interest including the Alabaster Mosque, the Mosque of Soliman Pasha.
Al Azhar Mosque And University:
This is considered the most important center of Moslem education. Its Islamic University, thought to be the oldest in the world, was originally founded in 969, the mosque dates back to970-972.
Manial Palace Museum:
An interesting mixture of Moroccan, Syrian, Turkish and Egyptian architecture. It contains rare carpets, textiles, inscriptions, precious stones and classical Islamic wood work.
El Souk “The Bazaars”:
This world famous Egyptian labyrinth of narrow winding streets illustrates the complete charm and color of the modern and ancient orient. Many separate Souks, or markets make up the whole, offering a vast variety of goods and souvenirs. El Muski and Khan El Khalili rich in its collection of silks and carpets, and probably the best known of these market streets, several of which specialize in specific wares.
Memphis And Sakkara:
24 Kms south of the city stands Sakkara, reached via palm tree forests where stands the historic Memphis. A fascinating array of ancient tombs and pyramids are grounded at Sakkara, the most interesting of which is unquestionably the step pyramid built by the King Zoser of the third dynasty (28th century B.C.), which is even older than the Giza Pyramids. There are also numerous temple ruins in the vicinity, also the necropolis of the Apis bulls “Serapeum” , which contains 24 granite sarcophagi, each weighting 60 tones.
The Museum Of Islamic Arts:
This museum houses one of the world’s most precious and comprehensive collections of Moslem art, dating from the time when Islam dominated the Near East.
The exhibits range from mosaics, glassware and precious metals.
The Giza Pyramids And Sphinx:
One of the seven wonders of the Old World, this trio of pyramids, situated 12 Kms from the city center, contains the most important of the pyramids edifices in Egypt. Nearby stands the great Sphinx, a combination of the man’s head, believed to be Khafra’s (Kephren), and the body of lion, said to symbolize power.
The “Son et Lumiere”, a breathtaking nightly spectacle relating by sound and light the story of man’s earliest civilization.